“The man who lies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone else. You know it is sometimes very pleasant to take offense, isn’t it?
A man may know that nobody has insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a mountain out of a molehill–he knows that himself, yet he will be the first to take offense, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great pleasure in it.”  ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

          I think if there is one word that can be used to describe our current cultural climate, it is outrage. According to the dictionary, outrage is defined as “a powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice.” 

          Certainly, there are legitimate reasons to be outraged. And when warranted, we should pursue and welcome true justice and reform. Let us remember, though, that as James writes, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20 NASB) I fear that many are feigning outrage for the sake of outrage, still others use manufactured outrage for the purpose of sowing seeds of chaos, instability, and revolution, not only political, but also societal and moral. (Who would have ever thought that were possible in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?)  The desire is to create an entirely new order of things devoid of the Judeo-Christian principles our nation was founded upon.  This is not an exaggeration. 

          I would suggest that, when you look at the evidence, this new order constructed upon the foundations of outrage is devoid of those trusted footings which promote domestic cooperation, tranquility, and tolerance.  I’m talking about love and forgiveness. Those in the spotlight may speak of love but their actions speak otherwise. Raw power is what they really seek, power to stifle, humiliate, delegitimize, and marginalize. 

          Today, just saying the “wrong thing” can get you into hot water.  Saying the “right thing” but not insistently enough or in the wrong way can land you in the same pot. As well, not saying anything at all can do the same. It kind of reminds me of how Jesus described the religious leaders of his day concerning Himself. “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:  “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’” (Matthew 11:16-17)  “Dance to our song, the way we want you to – or else!” 

          What a contrast to God’s instruction to us through the Apostle Paul!  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV) 

          “Not easily angered” – or we could say outraged.

          If any being could ever have been rightfully outraged and unleash His anger it was God on the day His Son was crucified. Being God in the flesh, Jesus Himself could have confronted the terrible injustice done to Him by doing exactly what the foolish leaders suggested, “If you are Messiah, why not prove it and come down from the cross?” 

          The old hymn reminds us of Jesus correcting Peter when he lashed out in the Garden as Jesus was being unjustly arrested, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53, NIV) He could have been outraged and called down fire from Heaven to consume all His enemies.

          Instead, what did He implore? “Father, Forgive them for they know not what they do.” And He stayed there on the cross and instead of reacting with righteous judgement, which would have been completely acceptable, He absorbed the hatred and anger of the mob along with their sins and the sins of the entire world. He absorbed it all and neutralized it all. Had He not done that, love itself would have died that day and with it any hope of redemption for us and our world.

          Imagine what could be achieved if people would embrace the way of Jesus! We cannot expect those who do not know Him to behave like Him. But, we certainly can and must when it comes to all of our circumstances; at home, at school, at work, and on the court or field. If we follow the way a Christ in all our dealings, being slow to anger and outrage and exercising forgiveness and love like a little bit of yeast affecting a large lump of dough, we can and will change the way people in our communities treat each other. 

In Him, Pastor Paul